Finding your ideal customers
You have probably discovered by now that taking the old school shot-gun approach to marketing is a huge waste of your resources. To make the best investment of time and resources in both traditional and social media marketing — including your blog — you need to know who your target audience is. Just compiling names and e-mail addresses really doesn’t tell you much. For your content to be of value to your customers, you need to know who they are, what demographics they fit into and what characteristics and traits they share with others. From this data, you can develop your customer personas — clear targets at which to aim your marketing efforts.
Knowing only the most basic information like how many males vs. females are following you and reading your content does not provide a clear enough picture of who your ideal customers are. What you don’t know about them can mean the difference between the success and failure of your traditional and social media marketing efforts. So, dig out your Sherlock Holmes style deerstalker hat, curved pipe and magnifying glass, it’s time to become an Internet super sleuth.
Using other online sources to fill in the blanks of the demographics of your target audience — your prospective customers — will take both time and effort. But rest assured, ROI will be well worth it. Just a typical Internet search using Google, MSN, Bing or other search engines can turn up a lot of information on most anyone these days. You can take a low budget approach by having a young, computer and Internet savvy intern become your on-line sleuth. If your client base is made up of larger firms, you might want to pay the subscription fee for a business search site like Hoovers.
Here are some additional tips for information gathering to fine tune your customer personas:
- Start with their website to see what it reveals about them and their business. ‘About’ and ‘Services’ pages often provide quite a bit of personal information and company history.
- There are nearly 850 million people on FaceBook, so odds of finding those who are following your blog, e-articles, newsletters and other content there are pretty good. Those who openly share their lives and businesses provide a lot of information you can use in developing your customer personas. Sometimes birthdates are included, but graduation dates can also give you a rough idea of age. Where they live, what they drive and other information can be telling in regard to their income level. Hobbies and interests are general topics freely shared on most social media sites.
- Search for on-line articles or blogs they authored. Both provide information on their areas of expertise and view points on topics of interest — who are they writing for? Blogs often include ‘About’ pages that are often more casual and personalized than might be found on a more formal business web site.
- LinkedIN is the place to look for business background, education and skills information on individuals. Companies post a lot of very useful information on LinkedIN company pages: who their employees are and were, company mission and/or vision, size of company, products and services, growth rates and more.
Search, search, search. Internet search engines and those within social media sites can be a treasure trove of information. Use keywords that relate to who your best customers are and pull up names and information on other potentially profitable clients. The more information you can gather to help clearly define who your fans and friends are, the easier it will be to create quality content that will appeal to them. Write and talk about what they want to hear, not what you think they should hear. When your customer personas and your marketing content match, you will be right on target for success.